As it turns out, there’s only one national park in all of New England: Acadia National Park. By the time the first national park came into existence (Yellowstone in 1872–now you’ll know if they ever ask it on Jeopardy), a lot of the east coast had already been developed. There are very few national parks east of the Mississippi because there simply wasn’t a lot of the land available. In Maine, however, there is a lot of land that remains unused to this day. Acadia National Park is not very big, but it is a great example of the rocky mountains and coastline that New England is known for. Acadia is on Mt. Desert Island, but doesn’t take up the entire island. It’s spread out, but there are part of Mt. Desert that are privately owned.
Acadia may be small, but in encompasses a large variety of land. It has coastline, which is very rocky and difficult to walk around on. It has a mountains, Cadillac Mountain being the most prominent, that rise up to 1,529 feet above sea level (this mountain is also the first place that the sun rises in the United States). It has lakes that have floors made up of small, smooth rocks. It’s incredible that such a small area can have so many different land features.
The most unique man-made feature of Acadia was funded by John D. Rockefeller: carriage roads. These are paths through the park covered in loose gravel. In their early days, the carriage roads were used primarily for carriage rides or riding horses. These days they are primarily used by runners and bikers. On our visit, we rented bikes from a place in Bar Harbor (the closest town to the park) and rode to the main restaurant in the park. It’s known for its popovers (although I got ice cream because I’m picky), which my parents said were delicious. We were exhausted from our ride, so rather than riding all the way back to town, we hopped on a bus with our bikes and rode that back. I’ve never really biked much, and I never realized how tiring it is to bike up and down hills.
Did I mention that we drove to Acadia? It took us almost 22 hours to get from Raleigh to Bar Harbor. I would not recommend it.
The most famous spot in Acadia is the Bass Harbor Head Light (Lighthouse). The lighthouse itself is pretty small, especially compared to some of the ones we have here in North Carolina. I would say that in size, it’s most similar to the Ocracoke Island lighthouse here. The Bass Harbor Head Light is very picturesque. It sits on right on the edge of the water, up on a small cliff. It looks like it could fall into the ocean at any minute. It’s this pretty little white building with a red roof sitting above these huge craggy rocks. It’s hard to envision, so just look at the picture of it I’m posting to see what I mean!
Acadia ranks pretty high on my list. I think I’d probably have it at #3, behind Zion and Arches. I really can’t put my finger on why I loved it so much–it was just so beautiful.